Eventually it was recognized the envelope itself could store the information without tokens. These impressed and incised forms, initially based on the shape of the abstract tokens they represented, were the first written words. They were all nouns and developed alongside a primitive system of concrete counting.
How many of these tokens made it all the way to cuneiform? Can we trace those paths? How many of those if any survive today in letterforms?
She applied for a fellowship at Harvard University's Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology, to study the origins of the use of clay as a writing material in the Middle East. Career[ edit ] Schmandt-Besserat has worked on the origin of writing and counting ,  and the nature of information management systems in oral societies.
In her most recent book, When Writing Met Art , Schmandt-Besserat investigated the impact of literacy on visual art. Younger, less internationally acclaimed scholars have superseded her in salary and honors. She did not become a full professor until , and, in an oversight some consider an outrage, after nearly 30 years at UT, dozens of journal articles, and a plethora of external accolades, she still has no endowed chair.
Everyone who knows her seems to have their own pet theory about why recognition for Schmandt-Besserat on the home front has been slow to come. Some say it is because she is a woman in a man's field. Others see it as a function of her failing to pay the appropriate obeisances to the proper people. Another popular theory attributes the lack of recognition to the fact that Schmandt-Besserat is in limbo between various fields of study.
Schmandt-Besserat's secondary affiliation, the Center for Middle Eastern Studies, is made up of scholars from 20 different departments and is her natural niche. Though the Center trains Middle Eastern specialists, provides support to its members, and publishes 54 books to date , it is not an actual department at UT.
Because art history is Schmandt-Besserat's primary allegiance, and because art history is best known in areas such as Latin American art, few art historians know what to make of the scientific nature of Schmandt-Besserat's research. Ken Hale, the chairman of the art history department, praises Schmandt-Besserat to the skies, saying she "brings international credit to our department and to this university. With her high profile and visibility she acts as an ambassador for us," and admits that Schmandt-Besserat's remaining at UT, whose art history department is sorely underfunded with only 20 full professors and five endowed chairs , and which does not grant sabbaticals, is a tremendous blessing.
Hale expresses relief that she has stayed a decision he attributes to the high caliber of her colleagues and to Austin, a nice place to work , but acknowledges that Schmandt-Besserat certainly should, along with several other people in the department, be holding an endowed chair.
Regardless of the whys and wherefores of her acclaim or lack thereof, Schmandt-Besserat has continued to toil away in her Art Building office at UT and in museums and archeological sites all over the Middle East.
Her latest work, of which she is fiercely proud and clearly excited, deals with the transition from writing as accounting to writing as literature.
Curious about why the ancients were imprinting names on vessels in tombs, Schmandt-Besserat researched the importance of the name in ancient times and discovered that "In Sumer the name was more than our names. It was your destiny. And it was your destiny not only during your lifetime, but also after life. For this reason, in each family there would be a person who was in charge of reciting the names of the family's ancestors at the new moon.
Inscribing a name on the funerary vessel then served to make the ancestor immortal in the same way the name's chanting had previously.
And from the name on the funerary pot, how do we arrive at the modern novel? Once writing names on vessels became standard, Schmandt-Besserat claims, "people get more daring. Eventually, the verb will come; and soon enough, you can write anything you want. So if, as writing was to our ancestors, computers are to us, what's next?
Baines, J. Visual and Written culture in Ancient Egypt. Black, J. Bennet, S. Houston eds. The Disappearance of Writing Systems pp. London: Equinox. Bonfante, G. Manchester: Manchester University Press. Coe, M. Malafouris L, Grasping the concept of number: How did the sapient mind move beyond approximation, in: I.
Renfrew eds. Mesoamerican Writing Systems. Princeton: Princeton University Press. Moos, M. Amsterdam:Overseas Publishers Association. Nissen, H. From Mesopotamia to Iraq. Parpola, A. Powell, B. Writing: Theory and History of the Technology of Civilization. London: Wiley Blackwell. Rogers, H. Writing Systems, A Linguistic Approach. London: Blackwell. Salomon, R. Some Principles and Patterns of Script Change. Houston ed. The Shape of Script. Sass, B. Schmandt-Besserat, D.
Austin, Texas: University of Texas Press. How Writing Came About. Before Writing. Xigui, Q. Glossary Abstraction: Consider the property of an item dissociated from any specific instance. Abstract counting: When numbers are considered separately from the items counted. Alphabet: A writing system based on a set of letters, each standing for a single spoken sound. Concrete counting: the use of different sets of numbers to count different set of items.
Cuneiform: The writing system developed in Mesopotamia in the fourth millennium BC. The script was written with a triangular stylus, which gave the stroke their characteristic angular shape. Logography: a sign refers to one word. Numeral: a sign to write a number. Pictograph: A character in the form of a picture representing either the sound of the word it evokes or the object represented. Syllabary: A writing system based on characters each representing a syllable, or unit of spoken language consisting of at least a vowel with, sometimes, additional vowels or consonants.
Tablet a lump of clay prepared in a cushion shape to support a written document.Her early schmandt-besserat was at denise hands of tutors. The school's nuns directed her to a prospective career as a language interpreter, for which she spent periods in Before and Germany in language paper. They lived in Paris, where three sons Alexander, Christophe, Phillip were added to the family. She graduated inafter writing the family moved to Writing, Massachusettswhere her husband had been offered employment. She applied for a fellowship at Companies University's Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology, academic writing introduction thesis paper study the origins essay the use of clay as a writing material in the Middle East. Career[ edit ] Schmandt-Besserat has worked on the origin of writing and counting and the nature of information management pork barrel napoles essay writing in oral societies.
Some of the earliest syllabic texts were royal inscriptions, and religious, magic and literary texts. Once writing names on vessels became standard, Schmandt-Besserat claims, "people get more daring. The Mesopotamian cuneiform script can be traced furthest back into prehistory to an eighth millennium BC counting system using clay tokens of multiple shapes. They lived in Paris, where three sons Alexander, Christophe, Phillip were added to the family. She is also a woman at home in the world. A syllable is a unit of spoken language consisting of one or more vowel sounds, alone, or with one or more consonants.
Around the middle of the 20th century this theory started to break down with new discoveries.
King recalls team-teaching a graduate seminar on the origins of writing with her back in the s. Its evolution is divided into four phases: a clay tokens representing units of goods were used for accounting — BC ; b the three dimensional tokens were transformed into two-dimensional pictographic signs, and like the former tokens, the pictographic script served exclusively for accounting — BC ; c phonetic signs, introduced to transcribe the name of individuals, marked the turning point when writing started emulating spoken language and, as a result, became applicable to all fields of human experience — BC ; d with two dozen letters, each standing for a single sound of voice, the alphabet perfected the rendition of speech. Robert King, chair of the linguistics department at UT, says that Schmandt-Besserat "works like a Trojan, all the time. The only major departure from the token system consisted in the creation of two distinct types of signs: incised pictographs and impressed numerals.
Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Her early education was at the hands of tutors. She showed that, before writing, art in the ancient Near East mostly consisted of repetitive motifs. Sass, B.